Liz Halliday secured qualifying for CCI**** level competition after recording her best performance of the year on board her horse Fox (Red Letter Day) at the Boekelo CCI*** last weekend.
The West Sussex-based dual sportswoman finished 34th overall in her first CCI*** competition for three years after strong performances in both the Cross Country and Show-jumping phases moved the pair up over 50 places from their starting Dressage position.
Fox has often struggled in the high pressure atmosphere of Three Day Eventing’s opening discipline but still recorded a personal best in the Dressage. That form continued on Saturday where they recovered well and showed style and pace during the Cross Country phase. The pair put on an excellent display to record a clear round with just the four time faults, moving them up 50 positions and into the coveted top 35 overall at the end of day two.
Cancellation of the prestigious Blenheim Horse Trials earlier in September meant that many of the world’s top horses and riders had made the trip to Holland looking to make up for that disappointment. The field was therefore packed with internationals and Olympians, including world champion Zara Phillips, who Liz would be directly up against in the top 35 Show-jumping shootout.
2009’s target had always been to hopefully step-up to Eventing’s top table at 4* level, and now only a significant result against the world’s select at 3* level would suffice. Fox duly obliged, finishing with just a single rail down and without time penalties to leave the duo 34th overall of the 108 starters after three largely rewarding days.
“It went really well actually, awesome in fact,” said Liz, after an excellent weekend’s work. “Against such a competitive field that’s a fantastic result. Typically that sort of score would get me into the top 15 or 20 but with so many of the world’s best on form, I’m really delighted to have been right up there holding my own, especially after the opening day.
“It’s been a challenging season and I have put myself under a lot of pressure, but this result makes it all worthwhile. I’ve got to say a big thank you to my sponsors Nupafeed and Performance Drink who's products really brought out the best in my horse and myself throughout the competition. I’m thrilled for Fox. He’s definitely a four star horse now in my mind, and I’m sure that if we can work on the Dressage over the winter then we’re going to be competitive next year when we progress into that elite league.”
One notable absence over the weekend however was Liz’s second horse Oscar. “He got a knock in the field last week and bruised himself,” she revealed. “He’ll be rested for a couple of weeks before bei ng put back to work. Its disappointing that he had to miss Boekelo, but thankfully there’s no major damage so he should be raring to go again next year.”
Boekelo marked the second high-profile event for Liz in what has proven to be a busy October. Having travelled to the States for the prestigious Petit Le Mans ALMS sportscar race last week, she traded in 720 horsepower for just the one in Holland. She will be returning to the cockpit in California this weekend though for the final round of the American Le Mans Series, this time at Laguna Seca.